My Sweet Little Angel Ch. 03bycreativetalent©
'What happened?' Frowning, Matt walked into Fiona's apartment. 'And give me more than "He took Fiona!".'
Seated at the kitchen table, Nick glanced up, a moment's relief running through him. 'I had been to the store to buy a necklace for her. When I got back here, the door was open. Her car was still in the lot. Her purse and cell phone were all here on the table. Blood there.' He nodded at the stain on the carpet.
Matt touched the blood. 'Still wet.' He glanced around. 'This looks bad.'
'Yeah. How the hell do we find her?' Nick scrubbed his face with his hands.
'So, is her ex still in Connecticut?' asked Matt.
'I guess so. To get back there, he will have to drive or fly. Either way, he will probably use his credit card.'
'Do you remember her ex-husband's last name?' Matt walked around the room, checking the chest of drawers.
'She said Trucker. He had called her 2-3 weeks back.' Nick tapped his finger on the table and then grabbed the cell phone lying on the table. He went on to explain all that had been happening over the past few weeks. The call, the incident at the parking lot...
Matt was already on his cell phone. 'This is Matthew. I need to know any credit card activity for a Robert Trucker. Especially in the last day or so and especially in Boston. I will explain later, but I need it stat.' He listened, and then snapped, 'I will wait.'
Nick raised his eyebrows.
Matt gave him a faint smile. 'I have some connections. They might be more efficient than the cops.'
Nick paced across the apartment. Stopped and looked down at the blood stains. His gut twisted. 'They did better work fast.'
A brutal hand struck Fiona's face, and her eyes snapped open.
'Ha! I knew you were faking.' Robert's blue eyes gleamed. 'You will pay for that, Fiona.'
Robert. No nightmare. Her breathing increased so quickly that the world started to blur. Breathe, Fiona. The memory of the deep voice anchored her. Nick would have never wanted her to panic. She forced herself to inhale slowly and looked around.
She lay on a filthy mattress on the floor. Robert stood over her, smirking, and the hate that blasted through her at the sight of him cleared her head. His nose was puffy, discolored, and she felt a rush of satisfaction. She had hurt him. She tried to keep from showing her satisfaction. And failed.
'Yes, you bitch. You managed to hit me. Once.' Mouth thinned in a line, he slapped her again. She lifted her hands to fight back, only to see handcuffs on her wrists. The metal cuffs were hooked to a chain dangling from the cabin ridgepole. He had cuffed her ankles together too. Terror burst inside her, and she screamed over and over until Robert's enjoyment registered. She stopped, her chest heaving, and closed her hands to hide the trembling.
'You don't know how much I have missed hearing you, my dear.' He ran his hand over his groin. 'Look at that. Already hard as a rock.' He paced across the room.
They were in a cabin, she realized. A tiny one-room cabin. Rain thundered against a metal roof. 'Where are we?' she managed to ask, her tongue dry and thick.
'In the country where the only things listening will be the alligators and herons.'
'Someone will hear.' She didn't sound convincing, even to herself. 'There are hunters everywhere. You will get caught.'
He turned to show her a cheap pistol tucked into his slacks. 'Don't worry your pretty brain, my dear. I did take precautions. It's amazing what a person can obtain with a little money. Buying a weapon in Boston is even easier than in Connecticut.'
Her heart sank.
'I never imagined you would start a new life so quick.' He smiled, stroking himself through his tailored slacks. 'I almost gave up on you. I tried going to prostitutes, but they didn't excite me like you do, no matter what I did to them. I crippled one so badly I doubt she lived. She screamed, nice and high, but she wasn't you.' His eyes held a weird light, a wrong light.
Fiona's stomach turned over. He was completely insane.
'I need you, Fiona. Just you.'
Her breath hitched as panic rose inside her. The cabin was in the country with no one around. Oh, God. Don't panic. Think. 'Listen, Robert,' she said. 'You don't want to hurt me right now. How will you get me back to Connecticut if I am all bloody?'
His laugh escalated, going higher and higher until she cringed from the sound. 'I chartered a private jet. I told them you were in a car accident, but you are crying to go home to Mommy. I will dope you to the gills, stick you in a wheelchair, and roll you onboard. They will think I am the best husband in the world, pampering my injured wife.'
His plan would work. Oh, God. She closed her eyes, breathed through her nose.
'So, since you are awake, let's get set up.'
She tensed. Time to fight. But rather than coming closer, Robert walked across the cabin and picked up a chain. Dismay filled her. The chain, attached to her wrists, went through a massive eyebolt in the ridgepole, and Robert had the other end. As he dragged on the chain, it lifted her up until she dangled from her arms, her feet on the mattress. The metal cuffs burned as they cut into her skin, tearing open old scars.
Robert tied the chain in an elaborate knot to a hook buried in the wall and looked at her. 'Look at that. Just where I have been imagining you all these months.' He faced her toward the wall.
She heard him rummaging in a bag. Her teeth clamped together at the snap of his whip.
'I was going to start slow and work up to the good stuff, but I just can't wait.' The whip sliced across her shoulders, the sting lessened by her shirt. At first. Until the whip sliced the fabric to ribbons.
Then the real pain began.
Hoping the pounding rain would drown out the sound of the engine, Nick didn't slow as his car tore down the dirt road, fishtailing through the curves, bouncing through the deep ruts. Matt braced one hand on the dash and stayed silent. Finally the car broke out of the forest into a small clearing that held a tiny, ramshackle cabin. A white Taurus with rental plates was parked in front. 'Got you, you bastard,' Nick muttered.
Not daring to get any closer, he left the car at the edge of the clearing. 'Take the back,' Nick muttered to Matt and headed for the front door.
Just as he reached the cabin, a high scream cut through the noise of the rain and sent rage searing like fire through his body. One kick took out the door, leaving it tilting from one hinge.
Fiona hung from her cuffed hands, a bloody slice across her stomach, her eyes glassy with pain. Even as his fury increased, relief spread through him. Alive. She was alive. She saw him and blinked. Frowned. Her lips formed his name. Nicholas.
Nick turned his attention to the fair-haired bastard standing in the center of the room, a knife in his hand.
'This is a private party. Please leave.' The man sounded as if he had been interrupted at a dinner function.
'Let her go,' Nick said, circling. How good was the bastard with a knife?
'She's mine, and she's going nowhere.' The man's eyes narrowed. 'You are the new guy, aren't you?'
Nick could see white around the guy's pupils. The fucker was seriously nuts, and he had a knife. But angry fighters make mistakes. Pissing him off would even the odds. 'Yes, I am her new guy' -- Nick curved his lips into a gloating smile -- 'and more. She's one hot little woman.'
'You fucked my Fiona? Inside her?' A howl burst from the man, but rather than attacking, he backed up. Reaching behind him, the guy hauled out a pistol.
Fuck. Knowing he was dead, Nick charged across the room.
'No!' Fiona screamed. Dropping all her weight on her cuffed hands, she lifted her feet and kicked the bastard in the back.
The pistol fired... a sharp blast of sound and a crack as the bullet hit the wood floor. Nick slapped the weapon out of the guy's hand and punched him hard enough to feel ribs break.
The bastard landed on his back, holding his side, and wheezing. And laughing.
Pulling back his foot for a kick, Nick hesitated. What was so funny?
'You can't win, you know.' Tears were in the man's eyes as he lay on his back, not even trying to rise. 'I hear sirens.'
Nick could too. He glanced outside. Not in sight.
Silently Matt eased past the broken front door and headed for Fiona. The place had no back door, Nick realized. He looked down at the asshole. 'The cops will lock you up for a long time,' he prompted, wanting to see where the guy was going with this.
'And I will be out soon enough. I am rich. I will destroy you, and I will have her in the end. And she will pay for letting you touch her.' A flash of rage crossed the man's face. He sat up, holding his ribs. 'You did this for nothing.'
Nick studied him for a moment, his mouth tightening. The bastard was telling the truth. Robert was crazy. He was rich. And he wasn't going to stop. The bottom line was that Fiona would never be safe.
Nick glanced at Matt and saw the same conclusion in his expression. Matt nodded. Coldness slithered up Nick's spine as his mind opened the door to the only available solution.
So be it.
Fiona shook her head and roused again at the sound of sirens. She could feel blood trickling down her arms, her back, and her stomach, and yet the pain was absent. And Robert had stopped. With an effort, she focused her eyes and saw a man trying to unfasten the chain from the hook in the wall. Matthew?
Another man stood in the room, towering over Robert. Nicholas. He really was here. This wasn't a dream. She watched as Nick's expression changed... cold replacing anger. When he stalked toward her ex, Fiona shook her head. No, no, no. Don't trust Robert. No matter how strong Nick was, he could still get badly hurt.
'I hardly did this for nothing,' Nick said to Robert with a sneer. 'She has a pussy worth taking. Yeah. Honey sweet.'
With an ominous whine, her ex pushed to his feet, and Fiona whimpered. Don't hurt Nick. She turned to Matt over at the knotted chain. 'Help him,' she whispered. 'Please.'
Matt's silvery gaze met hers. He shook his head.
He wouldn't help? What was wrong with him? She tried to yank free, and pain seared her wrists.
'You touched her.' Robert's mouth twisted. 'She's mine. My wife.'
'Hell, she is not your wife, dickhead. She isn't married to a wussy like you anymore. She wants a man.'
Fiona screamed as Robert launched himself across the room. At the last minute, Nick stepped out of the way, and Robert staggered to a stop almost at the far right wall.
'You know how good she sucks cock?' Nick chuckled, and Fiona stared at him in shock. Was he insane?
Robert attacked again and hit Nick in the face.
Nick grinned. 'One more please.' And took another fist against his cheek. He shook his head like a bull shaking off flies, before hitting Robert, forcing him back a step. Robert groaned and attacked again. Blocking a fist, Nick punched Robert in the ribs where he had hit him before.
With a howl of agony, Robert folded over. Fiona saw Nick inhale, his muscles bunching, and then he hit her ex-husband squarely in the jaw so brutally that Robert flew backward. The back of his head slammed into the wood stove with a gut-wrenching crack, and he dropped onto the brick hearth.
Fiona heard a roaring in her ears as she stared at the man lying on the floor.
When Nick bent over him, then turned away, she tried to warn him that Robert would jump up and hurt him...to watch out, only she couldn't seem to find any air.
The chain holding her jerked and she moaned and tried to muffle the sound. Don't wake him up; he's just sleeping. Nick came across the room to her, and she shook her head at him. No, watch Robert. Watch him. Only Nicholas wasn't listening.
As Matt lowered her, Nick held her steady and then lifted her into his arms. His arm hurt her back, and it didn't really matter. She turned her head to watch Robert. He would hurt Nick. She had to keep him from hurting Nick.
'Fiona.' Nick's deep voice. 'Look at me.' He turned so she couldn't see Robert.
She raised her head and met eyes so black and fierce, she cringed.
'Easy, sugar. It will be all right. The ambulance is almost here.'
She realized she was whimpering. He held her closer, his hard grip reassuring. This wasn't a dream; he really was here. And she tried to tell him how she much she loved him, but once she started, she couldn't stop whispering one thing, over and over, 'You came... You came...You came...'
He shook his head at her. 'Shh...' He tucked her head against his chest and with Matt's help shifted her so his arm didn't rub the open areas on her back. Matt searched the cabin for the handcuff key.
Had Robert gotten up? She tried to look over Nick's shoulder, to watch for him. An ambulance appeared outside the broken door. Maybe they did take that bastard away, and Nick would be safe.
Matt appeared in front of her. 'Hold on, girl. Let me get these off.' He unlocked the cuffs, carefully easing the metal out of her mangled flesh and swearing in a voice she had never heard before.
When one place hurt too much and she whimpered, Nick growled low and deep. He scowled at Matt. 'I want to kill him again.'
'Get in line.'
The world was a muddled place, filled with pain. Sirens. Men's voices. The sharp smell of antiseptic. Rocking and bouncing that made everything hurt. Humid air. More pain.
When Fiona finally managed to open her eyes, she was surrounded by white curtains. A familiar sight. She was in an emergency room. Left with strangers. She let herself fall back into darkness.
She roused again at the sound of a low, commanding voice, one that washed the loneliness away.
A woman's voice raised in frustration. 'I am sorry, sir, but family only.'
'I am family.' Nick's voice came closer. 'Fiona, which cubby are you in?'
'Umm...' Did they have numbers for white-curtained rooms? 'Here. Wherever that is.'
'But...' the woman sputtered. 'Oh, fine. Obviously she wants you with her.'
A large hand pulled back the curtain, and Nick entered, taking up all the extra room. His gaze took in the blood pressure monitor on her arm, the IV bag dripping fluids into her. 'All the essential equipment, I see.'
She had felt all alone and helpless, remembering how the paramedics had looked at her with pity. An abused woman covered with scars. No one saw her.
Until now... Nicholas leaned over the hospital gurney and looked into her eyes. 'You want company, doll?'
Her eyes brimmed with tears, and she could only nod.
'Good answer. You saved yourself a fight.' He leaned an arm on the side rail and picked up her hand, engulfing it within his long fingers. 'Did they give you anything for pain?'
'I told them no.'
His brows drew together. 'And why would that be? You are hurting.'
'I... Robert gave me something to knock me out. And pain medicine makes me fuzzy. I don't...I can't handle not being alert right now.'
He nodded. 'Good enough.'
A doctor came through the curtains, a lean gray-haired man with sharp blue eyes, stethoscope around his neck, flipping through pages on a clipboard. 'Mrs. Trucker?'
She cringed at the sound of that horrible name, and Nick's grip tightened. She took a breath. 'No. It's Miss Fiona Kahler.'
He ran through the standard medical questions, ones she was all too familiar with from her frequent emergency room visits. If she had been too badly hurt for Robert to fix, he would take her to the ER, different ones each time to prevent questions. When her scarring got too obvious, one doctor suspected abuse and tried to get her to a shelter. Robert had pulled strings. His friends knew everyone... and she had not only been released to Robert, but she had been punished for arousing the doctor's concern.
'All right then, let's see the damage,' the doctor said now. He helped her sit up, opened her gown, and started peeling off the gauze dressings the medics had applied. She concentrated on staring at Nick's hand covering hers. He had a bruise there on the knuckle and another on...
The doctor made a sound. Fiona looked up. His lips were pressed so thin, they were white. 'Who did this to you?'
'My ex-husband,' she said.
The doctor's gaze settled on Nick. 'You?'
'No. He's dead.'
The doctor looked at the bloody gauze in his gloved hands. 'Sure he is. How long's he been dead?'
The curtain whipped back. 'About an hour.' A heavy man in a dark suit walked to the foot of the bed and flashed a police badge. 'Is that right, Miss Kahler?'
'I...' How long had she been out? 'I don't know,' she said, feeling helpless.
'You want to tell me about your day?' He pulled a notepad from his pocket.
'You want to wait until I sew her up?' the doctor snapped.
'Actually, I would like to see the damage before you do that,' the cop said. 'The guy at the cabin,' he glanced at his notes, '... Matthew Grayson said her ex-husband whipped her. 'Now that seems a little...'
The doctor not only stepped back but shoved the cop into his place where he could see her back. 'Ah!' the cop cleared his throat, 'Hell. He sliced you up good, didn't he?'
'Breathe, sugar,' Nick rumbled, his watchful eyes on her.
She sucked in a breath.
'While you are here,' Nick ordered the cop, 'look at the older scars too. She divorced him a few months back. He took her this afternoon.'
'Ma'am, I am sorry,' the cop muttered. 'I saw the chains and handcuffs, and I figured some kinky games, not... Jesus, I have never seen anything like this.' He stepped away from the bed, his ruddy face almost pale. He looked at her. 'Anything else besides the whip marks?'
She swallowed. Why did she feel humiliated when it had been done to her? 'There...'
'Scars around her wrists.' Nick held up her hand where a bloody gauze dressing circled her wrist. 'Those scars are pretty well wiped out by this new damage. Cigarette burns on her left breast, some knife scars on her bottom, old broken right leg, puncture wounds on her hands, and a scar on her forehead.' He rubbed her fingers where shiny white spots marred her tan. 'The doc here can probably document all that for you when he examines her.'
The cop's face had gone rigid during the recital, but his eyes softened when he looked at her. 'How many times did you try to get away?'
'Just once before last year.' She stared down at her hands. 'That was when he whipped me till the crop gave way.'
The doctor sucked in a breath but didn't speak.
A muscle twitched in the cop's cheek as he looked down at his notepad. After a second, he asked, 'So today, you have a cut-up back. Anything else?'
Nick spoke for her again. 'From today, she also has a slice across her stomach from a knife. That's when Matt.... Matthew and I got there and stopped him. I broke the door down. He had a gun, tried to shoot me, and although chained, she managed to kick him from behind.' Nick gave her such an approving look that she warmed all the way through. 'The bullet went into the floor. We fought.' He touched his cheek and chin from where Robert had hit him. 'I hit him, and he fell back against the wood stove.'
'How do you know Miss Kahler here?'
'She is a friend of Matthew. I met her at his place three months back and ended up dating her.' He kissed her palm then gave her a merciless look. 'And I am not letting you go, sugar.'
She actually managed to smile at him and touch his warm cheek, although her fingers trembled. 'I think I wouldn't mind.'
'Looks like a pretty clear case of self-defense,' the cop said. 'Give me your name and address and all that.'